Tag Archives: child to parent violence and abuse

The experience of Black mothers in negotiating CPVA

Whether in the way we think and talk about child to parent violence and abuse (CPVA), in the way programmes are designed and delivered, or in the way services are commissioned, many of us are acutely aware that there are huge gaps in understanding and representation. Assumptions about parental practice, about relationships with authority, or access to services, are the obvious points at which every person’s own experience impacts the way we think of what is ‘normal’. But it goes much wider than this and we would do well to take the time to listen more to those who bring a different voice and experience.

Anu Adebogun was one of the researchers with Rachel Condry and Caroline Miles, who examined the impact of the covid pandemic for families living with CPVA. She is now engaged in her own doctoral research at Oxford University looking at the experience of Black mothers living with CPVA, and is seeking participants from the Black community in order to broaden and deepen both our understanding and practice. Anu says, “I am interested to hear the views of Black mothers because their experiences and perspectives have not been considered in research. Nor has the role of culture, religion, race and ethnicity in shaping help-seeking for CPVA been explored.”

If this is something that you recognise as true for your family life, please do consider whether you can help in developing our understanding further. If you are unsure or you have questions, you can contact Anu using the email address given on the poster. If you would like to complete the online survey, you can follow this link. You will also find more information about Anu, and about the research there.

Thank you for your help with this important work.

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“A reduction of violent and abusive behaviours”, an Evaluation of the Building Respectful Families Programme

One of the constant features in recent reports about child and adolescent to parent violence and abuse has been the problem that there are few evaluations of the effectiveness of the support offered to families by the various programmes available. However, whether because of the rising interest meaning there is more funding available to pay for evaluation research, or because of the length of time many programmes have now been running contributing to more meaningful data, we are now starting to see increasing numbers of reports beyond the annual returns submitted to funders. The team at Safe! have recently commissioned such research, and I am pleased to share their report here, in a blog authored by Alice Brown, Service Manager for the Building Respectful Families programme.

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A response to the Government’s Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan

Somewhat delayed because of family circumstances, but I thought it would be helpful to have a look at the Government’s recently published Tackling Domestic Abuse Plan, and offer some thoughts.

Before I get started, a couple of caveats. First, the debate continues as to whether it is appropriate to consider child to parent violence and abuse under this umbrella. There are those who feel very strongly that it should be, because of the harm caused and the frequent links to the experience of intimate partner violence and abuse. (Academics such as Wilcox (2012) have made this case. PEGS literature is another case in point.) Others find the terminology and conceptualisation problematic, and shy away, preferring to focus on the age, the trauma and vulnerability of the children and young people themselves (for instance, many within the adoption community would feel this way). My sense from listening to people is that both views have merit, but that the circumstances around the harmful behaviour and family situation need to be taken into account in order to properly reflect each family’s situation.

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New work on APVA draws attention to links with sibling abuse and bullying.

In my own book, Child to Parent Violence and Abuse: a Practitioner’s Guide to Working with Families, I included examples of how different individuals had sought to “make real” the issue of data, and prevalence of CPVA for their own work and that of other practitioners and policy makers. Elizabeth McCloud had spoken to me at a conference some years earlier about the project she was undertaking, and she is one of the people referenced in my work. So I was thrilled to hear that her research was completed, and available to all. My one regret is that I did not find the time to read this earlier.

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Research priorities

I was chatting to someone recently and we were pondering the next direction for research in the field of child to parent violence and abuse. We are not without guidance in this respect. Most reports and papers conclude with recommendations, including further research needed to fill gaps in knowledge and understanding, and in the development of good practice.

Indeed, in the recent rapid literature review for the Domestic Abuse Commissioner’s Office (here and here), Victoria Baker and I made a number of proposals for the way forward, with eight separate research priorities which can be summarised as follows: 1) establishing a nationally agreed terminology, 2) collecting robust data, 3) longitudinal research looking at the long term implications including “cost to society”, 4) a focus on young people’s experiences and perspectives, 5) how the experience and presentation of CPV is affected by the intersection of different identifying factors and situations, 6) high risk cases and those involving sexualised behaviour and abuse, 7) robust examination of context, and 8) the impact of COVID-19 for families and support services.

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Mothering challenging adult children

Happy Publication Day to Judith Smith, author of Difficult: mothering challenging adult children through conflict and change, which is published today!

Reading this very welcome book, I was faced with a barrage of emotions:  

  • Terrible sadness at the sacrifices made by so many women to keep their child as safe as they know how.
  • Anger at the expectations and prejudices in the attitudes of others towards mothers giving a home or a helping hand to their adult children.
  • Weary resignation in the knowledge that the public services needed to take over the care still do not exist in sufficient numbers.
  • A smile at the similarities in so much of the book with my own field of child to parent violence and abuse.
  • And a shout of joy that the book exists – an answer to so many emails and calls for help that I and others receive each week!
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How can I be sure? Developing a standard for work with families experiencing child to parent violence and abuse

  • How do I choose between different training and trainers?
  • Can I be sure this service will really help my family?
  • What would make me choose to commission one programme rather than another?

All questions I have been asked over the years – some more recently than others – and all very valid!

How do you decide between different providers, now that the number of agencies offering training and provision around child to parent violence and abuse is growing at pace, and with so many programmes being designed from scratch? With so much offered online now, there is no longer the easy decision about travel time, though budget-size might still feature as a legitimate concern. And there remains limited research citing clear evidence of the long term effectiveness of different approaches.

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A consideration of violence

I’d like to start the new year off with a hope that we will see a continuing growth in understanding around child to parent violence and abuse – at all stages of life – and that that understanding will be matched by resourcing and provision. I wish all of you reading this good health in 2022, a kinder year hopefully for all!

In the meantime I have a guest blog from Jason Mitchell of Semblance Theatre, considering our understanding of violence and the meaning we make of it. I came across the work of Semblance Theatre through a Google alert. Jason is the Developmental Lead for Semblance, an organisation that combines extensive experience in the field of childhood trauma, particularly around adoption, with therapeutic approaches and performance arts. Over to you Jason ….

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Some seasonal thoughts

We* are all feeling a little emotional at the moment (covid, Strictly Come Dancing final, new grand daughter, Christmas songs on the radio), so I might be forgiven for maybe shedding a tear when I read the letter from Nikki Rutter to her co-researchers, published in entanglements. Please read it yourself – I won’t try to comment on it.

The last year has seen incredible advances in many ways in people talking about child to parent violence and abuse, in media coverage, in government funding for the development of support, and in the publication of new research. But the months of covid have, we know, also been difficult beyond our imagination for those living with this as part of their daily lives. This knowledge MUST temper our celebrations. And it should also sharpen our determination to listen to your voices, to learn from you and to hear what works, what makes things worse, what brings hope and what makes you angry or despairing. That should be our new year resolution if we make them, and that will be my hope for the next year of writing.

In the meantime, I was going to write something fairly bland and dry about opening hours over the holiday. I’ll just leave you with these links to organisations offering support at this time. Wishing you peace, and hope for 2022.

Capa First Response

PEGS

Family Lives

Young Minds

Samaritans

* Royal we, meaning me, obviously!

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Positive feedback

People who know me will probably tell you that I tend to shy away from conflict. Not quite “peace at all costs”, but nearly so. I’m sure it’s something I’ve carried from my childhood and, as I’m more aware of it, I reflect on when it can be a helpful stance to take – or not!

It’s something I hear of a lot, listening to parents who are living with violence and abuse from their children, as they become more and more restricted in the space they have and the lives they live in an attempt not to trigger ‘an incident’. Something that can seem helpful at the time perhaps, but ultimately this is going in only one direction. 

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